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Wynwood Art Walk 2012: Crumpled bills and shaky sculptures

One of Enrique Gomez De Molina's mixed-media pigeons the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery.

Want to figure out what's addling the collective unconscious? No need to consult a shrink. Just head to Wynwood this weekend for the first Art Walk of the year.

Beginning at 6 p.m. this Saturday, several psychologically freighted new exhibits will riff on unnerving themes. Offerings will explore everything from the anxiety caused by a feeble economy to the harshness of living in contemporary society to notions of the hysterical and sublime. Here are our picks for this month's edition of the Second Saturday arts crawl.

At Curator's Voice Art Projects (2509 NW Second Ave., Miami) Rubem Robierb crumples cash to create a sort of inkblot test that evokes thoughts of a weary public struggling to make ends meet in an economy gone mad.

For his solo exhibit, "Show Me the Money," the Brazilian artist crushed bills and photographed them against stark black backgrounds to create images that skew perception while inviting reflection on the influence of institutional power and the plight of the powerless. Look at his deceptively simple pictures and you might make out the image of a heart, a star, or the outline of a U.S. map. Yet your eyes are drawn back to the familiar symbols and portraits of dead presidents emblazoned on the bills. It confuses viewers attempting to find meanings hidden in his austere snaps.

Use of ambiguous designs is an idea that goes back to artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli. In 1921, Hermann Rorschach, a Swiss Freudian psychiatrist, invented his famous test based on inkblots designed to reflect subconscious parts of an individual's personality.

But Robierb appears to be more engaged in a critique of our economic condition than experimenting with what makes people tick. By focusing on cold cash in his pictures, he mostly provokes unease. Call 786-378-6381 or visit curatorsvoiceartprojects.com.

For his first solo at the Fredric Snitzer Gallery (2247 NW First Pl., Miami) Mauricio Gonzalez agitates the senses with a challenging exhibit delving into the chaos and harshness of contemporary society. His show, "Speed of Life," features an imposing suite of sculptures created from discarded materials that are difficult to pigeonhole. Gonzalez's works appear to have been created in a slapdash fashion; they are the artist's spontaneous response to the unpredictable nature of his environment. Some bring to mind the fragmented armatures of skyscrapers left unfinished following Florida's building bust.

At times seeming to teeter between structural balance and imminent implosion, his work speaks to the precarious state of our landscape and the jarring reality of the foreclosure calamity.

The work is unpredictable in its choice of material and its seemingly fragile design — it appears ready to keel over in the slightest breeze. It combines the ephemeral with the violent, a salient reminder that life demands equilibrium between the natural and artificial, the accidental and the deliberate. Call 305-448-8976 or visit snitzer.com.

Another stimulating exhibit comes courtesy of Richard Höglund's "Hysterical. Sublime.," on view across the street from Snitzer's at Gallery Diet (174 NW 23rd St., Miami). The artist is making his third appearance at the space. Featuring photography, works on paper, and video, the solo show represents Höglund's ongoing research into the nature of the sublime.

Those who have encountered his work at Diet in the past might remember the parsing of Benedict de Spinoza's Ethics in a series of conceptual translations recording human labor. But Diet's press announcement seems to indicate that Höglund might have switched from the cerebral to the visceral: "The madness and the comfort that come from an encounter with the sublime are revisited in a mise en oeuvre of Memory vs. Present, of Analysis vs. Action."

Having read my fair share of psychoanalytical textbooks and art gallery press releases, I'm aware that data regarding cognition, motivation, and perception can be at times difficult to discern, but I'm not sure what this description of Höglund's work means: "No longer a notion limited to the grandiose natural experience, the pain-pleasure paradox of the sublime is found within the fissures that compromise our constructed quotidians."

It suffices to say that whatever this artist is up to, it's unlike anything he has offered before — and it's likely to inspire deep thought and amusement. Call 305-571-2288 or visit gallerydiet.com.

Meanwhile, at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery (3550 N. Miami Ave., Miami) on the edge of the Design District, Enrique Gomez De Molina tinkers with Mother Nature with the zest of a mad scientist or perhaps Norman Bates. His exhibition, "This Is Not Taxidermy," boasts a bizarre flock of pigeons — created from mixed media, leather, ermine and spotted skunk pelts, and rooster and ostrich feathers — and a mutant menagerie of other creatures that both tantalize and repulse.

With names such as Chi Chi La Rue and Lady Divine, his lustrous winged chimeras appear poised to flutter along an haute couture runway as if gussied up by Alexander McQueen.

De Molina, whose ingenious creations raise questions regarding a host of ethical and environmental issues, are both dramatic and whimsical yet pack the power to induce viewers to rethink their relationship with reality while instigating wonder, and that's no mean feat. Call 305-573-2700 or visit bernicesteinbaumgallery.com.

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Related Locations

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Curator's Voice Art Projects
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Fredric Snitzer Gallery

1540 NE Miami Ct.
Miami, FL 33132

305-448-8976

www.snitzer.com

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Gallery Diet

174 NW 23rd St.
Miami, FL 33127

305-571-2288

www.gallerydiet.com

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Bernice Steinbaum Gallery - Closed

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